I’m starting a new thing here. Sometimes Fridays and Saturdays are a bit slow in the blogosphere, and it’s a god time to bring to the more regular readers the things I’m reading that really seem to not only interest me, but also seem to be signal posts along the way as our society changes, for good or ill.
The reason that the monstrous crime of pedophilia matters is simple: In an increasingly secular age, it is one of the few taboos about which people on both sides of the religious divide can agree. It remains a marker of right and wrong in a world where other markers have been erased.
And that is also the reason that the questions surrounding the attempted extradition of Roman Polanski for a 1977 child rape briefly became the Rorschach tests of our times. Sophistication vs. prudery, the morality of the 1970s vs. the morality of today, European artistes vs. American law, Hollywood vs. Middle America: Given just how many cultural and moral buttons were punched by the case, it’s small wonder that l’affaire Polanski generated commentary as voluminous and passionate as it did.
Even so—and to the surprise of many commentators—one singularly interesting fact about the whole wretched matter was that the director and his fate generated little sympathy anywhere in the United States east of, say, Malibu. To the contrary, the Polanski case somehow succeeded in doing what no one actually trying has managed to do in years: uniting practically all Americans, liberal as well as conservative—in this case, against the hapless director.
I’ve argued in these pages that Polanski is innocent until proven guilty; and even though this case stinks of blackmail with a Plea Bargain already agreed to before Polanski fled the country. But the universal furor over Polanski’s crime is something I share; if he did indeed do this thing, he deserves justice, swift, harsh, and brutal as the crime he committed:
Even so, let’s welcome the good news whenever we can get it. The public furor this fall over Roman Polanski’s rape of a thirteen-year-old girl many years ago has forcefully revealed that, in most of America, yesterday’s itinerant savoir-faire about sex with minors has been pushed from the mainstream and forced back underground. It is a consensus that did not exist in such force a decade ago, and the priest scandals are largely responsible for it.
If there’s a clearer case of good coming out of evil lately, it will take some time to think of one. Meanwhile we can be thankful, at least for now, for something that so often eludes the world—a case of small but real moral progress that bodes a little better for the youngest and most innocent among us.
The article is one of the longer I’ve ever read on a blog, but the sheer encouragement it heralds to the forces dedcated to exposing the pedophiles and protecting our kids is well worth the couple of minutes it’ll take. Make some time this weekend and check this out.
You won’t be worry.